Last May, we completed a well construction project at the Ngubo school in the Lupane district, one of the poorest in Zimbabwe. The benefits for students and their families show how improved access to water changes lives: it provides health and dignity, boosts the educational process, and generates knowledge to adapt to the climate crisis and fight against poverty.
Violence and the climate crisis have already displaced 100 million people worldwide. The meeting "Sanitation in Conflict," which we organized with World Vision, UNICEF, and UNHCR on World Toilet Day, revealed little-known aspects of a humanitarian crisis that is spreading and that, in many cases, we tend to forget.
In a new project in Malawi, we address menstrual hygiene and education in schools as a comprehensive and irreplaceable element of any approach to access to water and sanitation. Beyond clean water and safe latrines, school children need dedicated facilities, access to supplies, teacher training, and cultural changes among the children, their parents, and the rest of the community. Only then can we talk about complete sanitation.
In recent years, severe droughts and heat waves have triggered a water crisis in the basin of the Euphrates, Syria's main river and the cradle of the first civilization in history. Its deterioration threatens the survival of a population exhausted by more than a decade of war in which lack of water has been used as a ruthless weapon.
More than 340,000 children die each year from diarrhea. In addition to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene practices, there is a lack of awareness of the health risks associated with these deficiencies. The short film Thought of Water, afinalist of the We Art Water Film Festival 5, explains one of the most common causes: children share the water of a pond with animals and their own feces. The eradication of childhood diarrhea will be a sure sign of the achievement of SDG 6.
Can you imagine what our lives would be like if we had to walk several kilometers every day to get the water we need to live? The more than 150 participants in the Global 6K For Water race experienced it by running six kilometers along the Serralada de Marina in Tiana. Their goal was to raise awareness of the lack of access to water in the world and provide total sanitation to three schools in Indonesia to ensure schooling for girls and good hygiene practices for all students.
In Nepal, only 15% of the rural population has access to a safe water source in their homes. The short film Homework, a finalist at the We Art Water Film Festival 5, shows how Sumnima, a village school student, cannot complete her homework because she has to fetch water for her family. All this in a country whose mountains make it the second most water-abundant country on Earth. Nepal is fighting to end this paradox.
The Sahrawi refugees who have been living in the Algerian desert for 46 years continue to face an uncertain future. The Spanish government’s recent policy shift has rescued one of the world’s longest-running humanitarian crises from oblivion. The short 22nd of April by Cesare Maglioni, finalist at the We Art Water Film Festival 5, shows how difficult it is to wash one’s hands in Smara, one of the five camps that host them, where a daily struggle for water, malnutrition, and hygiene is fought.
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